University of Miami

The Hurricanes' goal for their #Surge19 class: 'We want to dominate South Florida'

Hurricanes defensive coach Manny Diaz is seen with his players in the first quarter of the 2018 ACC Championship Game.
Hurricanes defensive coach Manny Diaz is seen with his players in the first quarter of the 2018 ACC Championship Game. adiaz@miamiherald.com

The Miami Hurricanes know the task at hand. Another strong recruiting class is in the works, and UM has the potential for a second consecutive top 10 class.

And while a lot can change between now and National Signing Day on Feb. 6, 2019, Miami will consider the recruiting cycle a success if it accomplishes one overarching goal.

"Some people want to dominate the recruiting rankings," UM defensive coordinator Manny Diaz said Tuesday on WQAM's Joe Rose Show. "We want to dominate South Florida."

The Hurricanes have done a good job in the 2019 recruiting cycle of going after talent in their backyard.

As of Wednesday morning, the Hurricanes' 2019 recruiting class ranked 13th nationally and third among ACC schools, according to 247Sports. Of Miami's 16 commitments so far, 10 are from Palm Beach, Broward or Miami-Dade. UM has pledges from nine of the 38 South Florida prospects ranked in the top 100 in the state. South Carolina is second with three.

The Hurricanes signed 23 South Florida players in their first two classes under coach Mark Richt. All but three were ranked among the top 100 players in the state.

"You can see the intentions," Diaz said.

And while there are some players who are known on the national level who will be freshmen at Miami this season — Plantation American Heritage defensive lineman Nesta Silvera, Miami Southridge wide receiver Mark Pope and Fort Lauderadle St. Thomas Aquinas cornerback Al Blades Jr., to name a few — sometimes, Diaz said, it's finding the diamonds in the rough in UM's backyard that can make a difference.

Miami Hurricanes coach Mark Richt speaks to reporters about how his team did on National Signing Day at the University of Miami's Schwartz Center in Coral Gables on Wednesday, Feb. 7, 2018.

One player Miami hopes to use as a prime example: freshman Gregory Rousseau. The 6-6, 250-pound defensive end was an under-recruited three-star prospect out of Hialeah Champagnat Catholic. Diaz remembered seeing Rousseau playing multiple positions on both sides of the ball — defensive line and safety on defense, wide receiver on offense.

"I think that's where most schools luckily missed out on projecting him," Diaz said.

Rousseau impressed in spring practices working with the second-team defensive line and is expected to contribute this season.

"If you can play on these fields down here in Dade, Broward and Palm Beach County, you can play," Diaz said. "It doesn't matter how many stars you have attached to your name. It doesn't matter what any magazine or the internet says about you. If you can prove yourself on the fields down here on Friday night, you can play and those are the guys we want to be Hurricanes."

It also helps, Diaz said, that Miami has been on the rise since Mark Richt took over prior to the 2016 season. The Hurricanes last year went 10-3, played in their first ACC Championship Game and earned an Orange Bowl berth for the first time since the 2003 season. A chance to reach the College Football Playoff in the next couple years isn't out of the question.

"These kids now they were ninth-graders when coach Richt got here," Diaz said. "These kids have short memories. That's probably about what they remember of Miami football. ... You can go from being a place where kids don't want to go to a place where they do want to go quickly."

Diaz and the rest of the Hurricanes coaching staff is hoping that trend doesn't change anytime soon.

"History shows when Miami dominates South Florida, we dominate the world in the fall. Those are the only rankings we care about is where we get ranked the first weekend in January," Diaz said. "We know the path to it because it's been done before. If we continue on that path, good things are going to happen."

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